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Perspective in Rape of the lock

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Introduction

"The poem plays many tricks with perspective" pg 61. What are those tricks and what effect do they have? 'The Rape of the Lock' by Alexander Pope contains many poetic techniques that offer an ironic perspective on eighteenth-century society. The narrative enables the reader to judge the subject of the poem and to appreciate the humour within it. Pope's use of literacy techniques, such as, comparison, hyperbole and his mock-epic style allow him achieve a positive response from the reader. The satirical poem forces continuous comparisons between insignificant and significant objects and views. Pope's use of comparison allows him to present the subject of the poem as something ridiculous, demonstrated in his association of Belinda to the sun at the beginning of Canto II: "Not with more Glories, in th'Etherial Plain, The Sun first rises o'er the purpled Main, Than issuing forth, the Rival of his Beams Launch'd on the Bosom of the Silver Thames." The image is presented as a paradox and so can be taken as a representative of the poem. ...read more.

Middle

His exaggeration of details increases the reader's perception of their importance. Pope describes Belinda's eyes as "Eyes that must eclipse the Day", explaining that their brightness outshines the sun's "tim'rous ray". However, through his elaborated descriptions Pope, paradoxically, highlights their true importance and shows them as they really are, small and petty. Pope later writes: "This Nymph, to the Destruction of Mankind, Nourish'd two Locks which graceful hung behind", Here he is illuminating Belinda's beauty, presenting her wondrous locks as so inviting that she can cause men to destroy themselves with their longing. Yet, similarly this use of hyperbole invites the reader to laugh at the comment and to realise that the statement is far from the truth. This technique means that the satirical poem is symbolical of eighteenth century, demonstrating how society has warped values and altered perceptions, and in doing so, tempts the reader to question the morals of society. The title 'The Rape of the Lock' immediately conveys that Pope is writing in a mock-heroic manner and the language of the poem mirrors that of an epic. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition, the division of the Poem into Cantos reflects the model of an epic, which is often extremely long. Pope presents his poem in only five cantos containing a total of fewer than 600 lines, the reduction of the poem as a replica of an epic helps Pope display the pettiness of the behaviour exhibited by the characters in the poem. The comparison of the poem to an epic alters the reader's perception on the text and on the importance of 'The Rape of the Lock' lulling them too into a false belief of its significance. 'The Rape of the Lock' focuses on society itself; wittily treating a trivial social quarrel as if it had been a catastrophic battle, Pope hints at the need for better order and proportion in social attitudes and social behaviour. Through his use of comparison, exaggeration and his mock epic narrative the poem is humorous and ironic. The satirical text draws on the lives of well-known individuals of Pope's time, and because of its absurdity the reader is enabled to ridicule and pass judgement on eighteenth century society, without feeling personally victimized. ...read more.

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